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LULAC Pushes for illegals DL's PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 12 October 2006 17:33


   The League of United Latin American Citizens’ Civil Right Council 7115 supported the resolution, passed by its state chapter in Miami last week, during a press conference Thursday at the Golden Gate Community Center.
   Council President Victor Valdes presented the resolution, aimed at providing driver licenses to undocumented immigrants with no criminal record.
   On one side, there is the humanitarian issue that affects the unlicensed immigrants, Valdes said.
   “But I realized that there would be racist people out there that would say, ‘Well, we don’t care,’” he said.
   Instead the group opted to approach it from the safety perspective, Valdes said.
   “If there are 1 million undocumented drivers in Florida , while we (licensed drivers) are on the road, the chances for an accident, regardless of who is at fault, is greater,” he said.
   If undocumented drivers have licenses and insurance, the state’s drivers would be safer, Valdes said.
   The way things are right now, who would pay if he were in an accident with an unlicensed or uninsured undocumented immigrant, Valdes said.
   “It’s the governor’s moral obligation to guarantee Florida ’s drivers that the streets are safe for us to drive on,” said Valdes.
Local government officials had a different take on the issue.
   Commissioner Fred Coyle said he thought giving driver licenses to illegal immigrants would be a violation of law and that he would strongly oppose such legislation.
   “They shouldn’t be driving and they shouldn’t be here,” Coyle said. “A driver’s license gives people a lot of access to things, including an airplane.”
   It’s a chance that government should not take, Coyle said.
   “We simply can’t tolerate that. If they are undocumented, we simply don’t know who they are, and we shouldn’t be giving them documentation,”     Coyle said, adding that such legislation did not make sense. “If they think that it’s going to solve a problem, it won’t be solved by giving the official documentation.”
  The Collier County Sheriff’s Office agreed.
  “We don’t support changing the law,” said Collier County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Karie Partington. “Giving illegal aliens driver’s licenses would be a violation of state law and the upcoming federal REAL ID act.”
  The REAL ID Act of 2005 was passed by Congress to make it more difficult to fraudulently acquire a driver license or ID card, as part of the effort to fight terrorism and reduce fraud.
  The act establishes minimum standards for state-issued driver licenses and personal identification cards which include information and security features that must be incorporated into each card; proof of identity and U.S. citizenship or legal status of an applicant; verification of the source documents provided by an applicant; and security standards for the offices that issue the licenses and identification cards.
  REAL ID compliant driver licenses and ID cards allow people to board a federally-regulated airplane, access a federal facility or a nuclear power plant.
  “It’s a matter of domestic security, because driver’s licenses are such key pieces of documentation,” said Partington.
   Valdes said he knows that there are people clamoring for the government to immediately deport all undocumented immigrants as a way to stop them from driving, but that won’t happen overnight.
   “(The government) can’t guarantee that they’re going to be able to kick out, within the next 15 to 30 days, the more than 1 million undocumented immigrants in Florida ,” said Valdes. “You have to at least give them a license, or else you are putting regular drivers in peril, because these people will still be on the road.”
   The resolution, which was unanimously approved by the Florida League of United Latin American Citizens Assembly last week in Miami , is similar to one adopted by New Mexico in 2003 and revamped in 2007.
   According to New Mexico documents, residents within that state — with or without a Social Security number— are required to present two forms of identification to obtain a driver license. A person without a Social Security card can present either a tax identification number, a Matricula Consular provided by the Mexican Consulate in Albuquerque after February 2005 or a valid foreign passport to obtain a driver license.
   Since 2003, New Mexico has issued 50,562 driver licenses to foreign nationals or those without a legal presence. Out of the 50,562, a total 10,790 issued since Oct. 1.
   “We think this law change, has benefited New Mexico ,” said Ken Ortiz, the Director of the Motor Vehicle Division for the state of New Mexico.
   Ortiz said, that by being able to issue illegal immigrants a driver license, the law has helped accomplish two of the state’s main goals.
   “We can test them and make sure that they are safe drivers,” Ortiz said. "We know who they are, we know where they live. We feel that it brings them out of the shadows.”
   He added that with a valid license, a foreign national would be less likely to leave the scene of an accident, and more likely to report a crime.
   Once in the system, the state can keep track of traffic citations and monitor vehicle insurance, which is also a positive, Ortiz said.
   “I think it’s an overall benefit for the state,” he said.
   New Mexico is one of seven states in the U.S. that do not require drivers to prove legal status to obtain a license.
   The next step is for Florida ’s delegation to take the resolution to LULAC’s national convention on July 12, said Valdes.
   Soon after that, he said, Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Legislature can expect to receive the proposal.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 07 June 2008 21:16 )
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